Sports Betting Futures
A future bet is any bet made regarding an event that will occur sometime in the future.
Most future bets are related to winning some sort of championship, series, or league, but a future bet can be made on almost anything that will occur at a future date.
If you place a bet on a game happening next week, this would not be considered a future bet. Future bets are wagers that have a longer-term outcome after you placed the bet.
For example, betting on an NFL team to win the Super Bowl at the start of the season.
Sports betting futures are a popular betting market for the NFL, NBA, and other major sports.
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When it comes to future bets, odds are set by a bookmaker based on the potential outcomes.
Futures are also outrights, meaning that your selection must win for the wager to be graded as a winner. There are no pushes when it comes to future bets.
Sports futures markets have expanded quite a bit since they made their debut in online betting markets.
Most bettors are familiar with odds on which team will win the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Title or Stanley Cup, but these days, most bookmakers have futures markets for just about every sport they offer.
For some sports, such as NFL football, futures have expanded far beyond which team is going to win the Super Bowl, AFC, or NFC title.
These days, there are odds on every division in the NFL at the best online sportsbooks.
Sports Betting Futures Market Timeline
Sports betting futures is the one market that is available 365 days a year for betting, for just about every sport.
The oddsmakers readjust odds to win a championship or title of a major sport and release new odds quickly.
Sportsbooks will release the odds to win the next Super Bowl almost immediately after the previous one ends.
Some betting sites have futures for the next year’s Super Bowl available before the season concludes. Once the odds are released, they aren’t etched in stone.
The odds on futures will update based on the performances of the teams in the league and for any notable suspension or injury. Of course, they also moved based on betting patterns or wagering action.
When a notable injury or suspension is announced, it’s not uncommon to see futures markets pulled off the board, adjusted, and reopened for betting. Futures are also often taken down at times, then reposted. For instance, NFL futures might be pulled off the board during an NFL Sunday of games.
Futures are just like any other market from the oddsmaker’s perspective. They can be changed throughout the season and may change minutes before the bet is concluded, although that is rare.
Sports Betting Futures Markets
Sports betting futures markets are firmly geared to recreational bettors.
The vast majority of people placing future bets are only looking to bet on their favorite team or back one of the top teams to win the title.
Getting balanced action on both sides can be tough when we’re talking about a single game. When it comes to futures markets, this is nearly impossible.
There are just too many bets coming in on the teams that have a higher chance to win and not enough action on the middle of the road teams or longshot underdogs.
Since balanced action won’t get them commissions, sportsbooks are forced to charge extra juice. Futures betting markets are notoriously highly juiced for this reason.
The commissions charged by bookmakers are considerably higher than the standard -110 pricing for most wagers.
Futures also have low maximum betting limits that are usually far below other major markets. Sportsbooks may take tens of thousands on NFL sides and totals, but they generally only accept up to $1,000 on future bets, and even that may be on the high end.
Many purely recreational sportsbooks have a maximum bet of $500 or lower.
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The Vig In Futures Betting
The vigorish or juice charged on futures betting markets is the biggest issue with betting them, and it’s one of the main reasons that sharp bettors steer clear.
Online sportsbooks have hold percentages that are often in the range of 20-30%. It’s not unheard of for Las Vegas bookmakers to eclipse 40%.
In our article on NFL Futures, we go into detail about how to remove the vigorish from futures markets.
We highly recommend reading the above-linked article before reading the rest of this article. We also dive into a sport-specific strategy for MLB futures and NBA futures.
Why Futures Markets Are Not Highly Efficient
Sports futures betting markets move based on public betting patterns, not by sharp action. Add in that and the large vigorish and we have a market that is not efficient.
Futures don’t work in the same way that side and total betting do. The public does have an effect on the lines, but sharp action spurs most moves in what is called a steam move.
The oddsmakers will adjust for public betting action if it is large enough due to exposure concerns, but the sharps are the ones truly shaping the lines.
In futures markets, however, the inmates are running the asylum, as they say. Recreational bettors are moving the odds, and since the betting limits are low so that they can protect themselves, the market is not frequented by sharps.
According to some oddsmakers, they often run into issues with one team getting two-thirds or more of the betting handle. In situations like this, it’s hard to blame the sportsbooks for the low limits and the high vig.
Line Shopping In Sports Futures Betting
Line shopping and removing the vig from futures markets is a strong combo. When it comes to futures, sportsbooks are much more likely to have lines that differ more widely than other markets, such as sides or totals.
Line shopping before you place a futures bet is paramount. Getting the best price in a market with such a high bookmaker’s advantage is a necessity. With that said, that doesn’t mean you should expand your list of trusted operators.
Futures, in particular, should only be wagered with top-rated sportsbooks because there is often an extended period between when the bet is placed and when it is settled.
Is Betting Futures Worth Your Time?
It’s tough to say. The most fundamental part of sports betting is targeting markets that are inefficient. But even though they are inefficient, the increased juice makes them almost unbeatable in some scenarios.
For instance, if you think an underdog for the playoffs or Super Bowl has a strong chance to make it, you might consider betting in their futures market.
If they get close, you can hedge the bet and pick up yourself a nice guaranteed profit.
However, let’s say instead you decided to bet on the team each week and into the playoffs instead of taking them on a future bet.
That’s an opportunity to take them on the moneyline or alternative lines if you think they may spring an upset that week.
It’s easy to see a 20/1 or more payout and picture yourself receiving a nice payout if the bet wins. It’s not hard to forget that you’re paying a massive amount of juice.
In most cases, bettors will find themselves with a better wager if they take the team in individual games towards the end of the season or in each playoff game.
They’re going to be placing bets with a lot less juice and fairer returns. This can be done through a variety of wagers, including sides, moneylines, and other propositions.
Should I Hedge My Futures Bet?
Futures are one of the better spots to consider hedging your bet, especially in the case that the amount is extremely large or deemed life-changing to the bettor who placed the wager.
It’s still important to realize that you should generally not place a -EV (negative expecation) bet to hedge a +EV bet (positive expectation).
Other Issues With Futures Betting
The other issue with futures is that the market can tie up money for an incredibly long time. If you place a futures bet at the beginning of the MLB season on which team will win the World Series, you won’t see your money until late October.
For someone with a large bankroll, this isn’t as big of a deal, but for new bettors looking to increase their roll by continuously attacking inefficient markets, it matters.
Building a bankroll is difficult and locking up a portion of it for several months isn’t usually a wise decision.
Best Sports For Futures Betting
Be it on the NFL, MLB or NBA, sports futures betting is popular among bettors. To know more about futures betting for a particular sport, check out our sports-specific futures betting strategy pages:
NFL futures betting is popular among football gamblers. Check out our complete NFL futures guide.
Baseball offers great futures betting opportunities. Check out the best ones at our MLB futures betting guide!
Future bets are one of the most popular hockey betting markets. Check out our NHL futures betting guide.
Super Bowl Futures
Super Bowl futures are a popular form of betting for football fans. Check out the best Super Bowl future bets.